MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Keep an eye on street signs. They’re all being swapped out everywhere because the federal government has new sign standards.
New street name signs have upper and lower-case fonts and are made of a new, more reflective material. Warning and other signs will also be made of the same material. The Federal Highway Administration made the change to reduce the number of traffic deaths, about half of which happen at night, according to the administration.
Tim Byrne is the chief sign maker for the city of St. Paul. Byrne has been making road signs that meet new federal standards since 2010 for the city and is playing a huge role in replacing the city’s 65,000 signs.
“It’s obviously a long tedious job because of the numbers,” says Byrne.
Byrne makes most signs one at a time. There are thousands of different sign templates, such as “NO PARKING HERE TO CORNER” and “NO PARKING CORNER TO HERE.” Nearly all street name signs in the city are different because they include the block numbers next to the name.
It’s an expensive process that will take years to complete.
The federal government had previously had a deadline of 2015 to make new signs such as “STOP” and “ONE WAY,” and 2018 for street name signs. That deadline was eliminated in 2012 to reduce the burden on local governments of coming up with the funds. St. Paul has access to more than $1 million in federal, state and local dollars in the 2013 budget to make, maintain, repair and install road signs. Communities now have to replace the signs with ones that meet new requirements when old signs are worn out, damaged or missing.
Byrne says the new signs have their advantages.
“It’s a better sign and it takes less time to make, and it lasts a lot longer,” says Byrne.
St. Paul city leaders said they expect to have a substantial majority of regulatory and warning signs replaced by 2015 and to complete street name sign replacement in 2018.